I am not a number-crunching kind of guy. I hate Excel. My primary interest in charts and graphs is how visually pleasing they are, not what the numbers show. But I work on the internet every day, so numbers are an inherent part of my job, and I did okay with my MBA courses that were focused on balance sheets. So I appreciate it when webcomikers show some interest.

One of the issues webcomikers often face is that they just want to make comics. But to become successful with them, you need to have skills in marketing, sales, UI design, and a host of other seemingly unrelated fields. Including analytics. From figuring out where your revenue comes from to detecting patterns in site traffic to determing which venues will provide the most lift for your overall online presence. That all comes back to numbers.

Dorothy “Cat & Girl” Gambrell is one of my favorite webcomikers when it comes to this because she has been, for years, very open and forthright with sharing her numbers. Specifically, what she earns from her comic. Although she doesn’t appear to have updated it lately, she has been posting reasonably detailed breakdowns of how much income comes in from different aspects of her site. How much did she make from books, or t-shirts, or prints. And she’s used that to change her webcomics business. She’s discarded items that were low performers, and focused on the ones that give her the most bang from her buck. Some time back, she even switched from a thrice-weekly update schedule to twice-weekly because she found the additional comic every week didn’t impact sales at all.

Rod and Leanne Hannah, over at Blue Milk Special, wanted to see something of his audience make-up looked like and conducted a poll, which is incredibly easy to do online. Many places even offer free survey tools that collect and colate the data for you. What they did was simply ask about the recently released Star Wars print comic (since BMS is itself a Star Wars themed webcomic). They found that nearly 80% of their audience either didn’t know or didn’t care such a print comic even existed, which says a fair amount, I think, given the strip’s theme. Clearly, the audience is largely not composed of must-have-it-all Star Wars completists and, in fact, probably have a fairly casual attitude towards Star Wars in general since the comics are an in-continuity continuation of the movies. Which means that A) they can probably be a bit more casual with whatever continuity they write into the strip, and B) the really obscure characters and jokes probably need to be very clear in their explanations.

I’ve seen some creators focus on search engine optimization (SEO) and others tackle site rating algorithms that can impact which ads might be available. Naturally, every approach is going to be a little different based on what data the creator has access to, and how well they’re able to interpret it. But there’s almost always something to be learned by studying the numbers behind a webcomic, which can then be used to make the comic better. Which is a goal that I think everyone, creators and readers alike, can appreciate!

About The Author

Senior Editor, Comics & Lifestyle

Sean Kleefeld is an independent researcher whose work has been used by the likes of Marvel Entertainment, Titan Books and 20th Century Fox. He writes the ongoing “Incidental Iconography” column for The Jack Kirby Collector and had weekly “Kleefeld on Webcomics” and "Kleefeld's Fanthropology" columns for MTV Geek. He’s also contributed to Alter Ego, Back Issue and Comic Book Resources. Kleefeld’s 2009 book, Comic Book Fanthropology, addresses the questions of who and what comic fans are. He blogs daily at KleefeldOnComics.com.